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Gouverneur celebrates with free community meal

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GOUVERNEUR — Too many people spend Christmas alone without a good meal and what they need to keep them warm and satisfied — so Tina M. Mullin and friends decided to make the day a godsend.

Mrs. Mullin, who owns Mullin’s Restaurant on Route 11 with her husband, Daniel J., heard from a member of her church about a Christmas project in New Hampshire that gave out warm clothes, school supplies and toys along with a free holiday meal.

“I just thought how fantastic that was. I see need every day,” Mrs. Mullin said. “I went to the local groups and organizations because they meet here at the restaurant and said, ‘We need to put money back into our community.’”

People rallied to the idea. An anonymous donor gave $1,000 for school supplies. Kinney Drugs donated 250 toys. Another anonymous donor gave money for gas cards. There were personal hygiene gifts for everyone. Backpacks were filled with hats, mittens and socks, and each child received a sled and a present to unwrap.

Children were given handmade stockings filled with goodies when they came in. After they had eaten, they were given gifts appropriate to their age and gender.

“Some kids have come in and were ecstatic,” said Samantha M. Mullin, Mr. Mullin’s daughter.

The restaurant dished up a free meal of ham, turkey or roast beef, not just for the needy but for anyone who wanted to gather together for fellowship.

“It’s not about Mullin’s or the groups,” Mrs. Mullin said. “It’s about God and it’s about His love. If people could see His love, the world would be a great place.”

Mayor Ronald P. McDougall stopped in to see how things were going.

“This is a service,” he said. “Interesting and very much needed.”

The dinner gave Jeanne I. Tatro, Gouverneur, a chance to have a meal with her family and father-in-law, Frank G. Pushee, a resident of Kinney Nursing Home in a wheelchair. The stair lift at Mrs. Tatro’s home is broken, so dinner at her house with Mr. Pushee was not possible.

“There is no way we could be together for Christmas without this event,” Mrs. Tatro said. “There were two other people sitting alone so we invited them to our table. That’s all Christmas is about to us. It’s about sharing and caring and loving people.”

The event added dimension to the day, said the Rev. Howard C. Maxson, pastor at Fowler Baptist Church, where Mrs. Mullin is a member.

“It gives a little brightness and meaning to the season,” he said.

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